In recent weeks reports have suggested that Arnie Graf, the US community organiser, who was brought in by Ed Miliband to revolutionise Labour’s campaigning, has been sacked by the party. When questioned on the subject on The Andrew Marr Show, Douglas Alexander, Labour’s general election co-ordinator, who was accused by many of firing Graf, replied that “the work that he started is being taken forward”, a response that failed to assuage fears among candidates and activists that he would not be returning.
David Cameron pounced on the story at PMQs last week when he quipped: “People around the right hon. Gentleman are fighting like ferrets in a sack. Their top adviser—get this, Mr Speaker—is called Arnie and he has gone to America, but unlike Arnie he has said ‘I’m not coming back.'”
But a party source told me today that there was a “programme of work” ready for Graf and that he would be back in the UK as soon as possible. The source also emphatically rejected claims that Alexander or Spencer Livermore, Labour’s general election campaign director, had sought to oust him.
That’s good news for the many party candidates who have benefited from his mentoring. When I interviewed Ed Miliband last month he told me: The really interesting thing about Arnie is, if you go round and talk to our organisers and our candidates, they are the people who’ve had the most exposure to him and who are the most positive about the role he’s playing. They say ‘he opened my eyes to doing politics in a different way’, to reaching out to people, to the way we make policy, to the way we engage people, to not just being seven people in a drizzle, but expanding our base, all of that. I think he’s got a very important role to play and I think he’s a great influence.“